The brain is the seat of intelligence, judgement and coordination. It is thus involved in various important processes. It makes sense for such important structure to be enclosed by a bony structure – the skull. However, this still doesn’t always the brain from damage and shaking a baby too much while playing can lead to brain injury.
Brain injury would present with various systems which would suggest deficits in the optimal functioning of the brain depending on the location of the damage and extent of injury. These symptoms could be mild like:
- Mild headache
- Poor balance or trouble standing
- Small cut or bump
- Ringing in the ear
- Mild blurring of the vision
- Temporary amnesia
Some of the indications of severe head injury include:
- Bleeding from deep wounds in the scalp
- Unusual eye movement
- Loss of consciousness
- Inability to focus
- Poor muscle control
A number of things can cause brain injury some of which can be classified into traumatic, metabolic or infective.
1. Traumatic Head Injury
This refers to any damage to the scalp, skull or brain caused by injury. Head injury may be classified in various different ways according to the type of injury, which structures in the head are damaged or how severe the trauma is.Closed or open injury
One way head injuries are classified is according to whether the injury is open or closed.Closed injury
A closed injury refers to damage that does not break the skull or penetrate the brain tissue. Although the skull is not broken, this type of injury can still cause brain damage in the form of swelling or bruising, for example.Open injury
An open injury refers to damage that penetrates the skull causing problems such as bleeding in the brain, skull fracture or the pressing of bones against structures in the brain. This type of injury is more likely to occur when a person is moving at high speed, when colliding with a windscreen during a car accident, for example. A gunshot to the head would be another example.Concussion
This form of head injury occurs when the brain is shaken, which may or may not involve a blow to the head. The effects of concussion range from headache to loss of consciousness.2. Metabolic
This is a secondary type of brain injury due to imbalances or inadequate supply of blood or nutrient or presence of toxins. These conditions create an unsafe condition for the brain which might lead to damage of nerves and other structures. Examples include inadequate blood flow in the brain (ischemia), reduced availability of oxygen (hypoxia) in the brain, low blood pressure, increased intracranial pressure (pressure inside the skull), or swelling in the brain (cerebral edema), free radical damage, and acidosis.There could also be poisoning of which carbon monoxide seems to be the commonest.
There are other causes of secondary injury to the brain due to infection. These include infection of the coverings of the brain (meningitis), collection of pus (brain abscess), infection of the brain (encephalitis), or sepsis.Other causes of brain injury could be from hemorrhage (hemorrhagic stroke, ruptured aneurysm),
To manage brain injury, it is important to investigate the cause. While full function might be restored in some cases, brain injuries might not be reversible fully. The extent of recovery is based on the cause of damage and the extent of damage.